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Is poor soil quality undermining your health and fitness?

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Is poor soil quality undermining your health and fitness?

Everyone has one; sometimes two or three or four. I’m talking about books that change your life.

You may find them unexpectedly, like at your mate’s place while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, so you pull an interesting-sounding title from their shelf… and become so engrossed you beg to borrow it immediately.

That’s what happened when I picked up Sir Albert Howard’s The Soil and Health many years ago. Written in the 1940s, it was a sensation - and has been instrumental in shaping my beliefs around ‘super soil’ ever since.

It’s message goes like this: food is only as healthy as the soil it grew in.

Carrots might all look the same, but ones grown in compost-rich and nutrient-dense earth under organic principles will have sucked up all that goodness, ready to transfer to humans. Carrots grown in stripped-bare soil, devoid of life and organic inputs will be positively anaemic in comparison.

It’s a simple concept, but mindblowing for us modern folk relatively removed from our food system.

Soil as a healing agent

More interesting still is the connection Sir Albert makes between food grown in healthy soil and the wellbeing of the people eating it. Through experiments and long-term observational studies, he shows that people with a range of mental health disorders and physical ailments start to heal and thrive on a diet of organically-grown food.

In short, soil quality is the magic factor in our health - yet how often do we think about it?

Could food grown in nutrient-poor soil be limiting your health, fitness and ultimately - results?

We are what our food eats. We’re only as healthy as our soil.

Here’s an example using animal products: Cows fed on grain have a totally different fat profile compared to cows raised on pasture. The former will have more inflammatory omega-6 fats thanks to the oils found in seeds, meaning their meat will be more inflammatory.

The latter, eating a natural diet of grass, will have more anti inflammatory omega-3 fats because they’re synthesising it from fresh seasonal grasses. The pigments and carotenoids present in lush pastures also account for that ‘yellow’ tinge in high-quality cheese, butter and cream.

As we know, our modern diet is sorely lacking in omega-3 fats - and eating factory-farmed meat fed on grains is one reason why. This also explains why studies linking meat and cancer/heart disease/etc can be flawed, because they’re based on processed meat from animals fed unnatural, inflammatory diets.

We are what our food eats. We’re only as healthy as our soil.

When it comes to nutritious veggies, soil quality counts. How often do you hear that leafy greens contain high levels of calcium and zinc? So, you diligently buy and eat bushels of kale, spinach and chard to get those essential micronutrients.

But unless they’ve been grown in good soil, plants won’t have much mineral content at all. Healthy humus (soil rich in organic matter) is required for veggies to take up nutrients and pass them on to us.

We are what our food eats. We’re only as healthy as our soil.

What this means for your body

If you’ve never quite reached your fitness and health peak; if you can’t seem to lean out or build muscle; if you have cravings and sessions of overeating; if you’re never quite ‘well’ - perhaps the soil your food was grown in is deficient, and your cells are crying out for fuel.

The human body depends on minerals, vitamins, healthy fats and proteins to function properly; to power every cell. Your hormones, metabolism, mental health - all these systems rely on nutrients extracted from food, and start to fail when there are none available.

As simple as it sounds, changing the source of your food can directly impact how you look, feel and perform.

This brings ‘buying organic’ sharply into focus. It’s not just a fad, a label, or a way of avoiding toxins; it’s about the level of nutrition your food contains.

Organic, local, biodynamic, permaculture or regenerative farmers/food producers take the time to get their soils right (in fact, it’s a requirement of organic certification), putting rich organic matter like compost in, so the plants and animals that come out are deeply nutritious.

Buying from farmers markets, local organic stalls, or growing your own food in the backyard using lots of homemade compost, is key to supplying your body with the right nutrients - from soil to sandwich.

Where to shop

You didn't think we’d leave you hanging, did you? Here are two of our favourite organic fruit, veg and meat suppliers - who we know personally, visiting their farms and seeing their soil enrichment and ethical principles in practice.

For fruits and vegetables - Rita’s Farm

For meat - Ethical Farmers

Final words

Even though we’re a place of movement and fitness, we see nutrition and diet as 50% of the health equation - which is why we offer food and lifestyle coaching to help members reach their goals (and stop spinning their wheels). To us, eating vibrant, nutrient-dense food that’s seasonal, local and grown in super soil is the logical companion to fitness, and the only way to reach that ‘next level’ of health that makes life infinitely more energized and enjoyable.

Tune in next fortnight for the next instalment in our holistic nutrition series, covering the six principles of (true) healthy eating.



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To your health,

Michael Wilson


Senior Exercise Practitioner

Holistic Health & Nutritional Coach

Manual Therapist

Functional Movement Specialist

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